Caribbean RoundUp

Haiti’s former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide cast his ballot at a polling station while his wife Mildred, center, stands next to him and presidential candidate Maryse Narcisse, in red, during presidential elections in Tabarre, suburb of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. Haiti’s repeatedly derailed presidential election got underway more than a year after an initial vote was annulled.
Associated Press / Dieu Nalio Chery

Antigua

There has been a decrease in applications for Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP) in Antigua and Barbuda.

Lennox Weston, minister of state in the Ministry of Finance said this can be attributed to a decrease in demand for the program but he remains optimistic that it can change in the future.

There are reports that the slowdown is also in St. Kitts and Nevis and other territories.

Weston said there may have been a 10 percent decline, “we project that we may have a 10-15 percent reduction from last year when we had EC$100 million from it; we may end up with EC$75 million, EC$80 million or EC$85 million.”

The minister said the projections do not spell disaster for the economy since there are international factors that could result in growth adding that marketing of the desirability of the Antiguan and Barbudan passport should be revised given that the world’s CIP market is large enough.

Weston admitted that the decline has had an impact on some developments as several projects are heavily dependent on CIP revenue.

Dominica

A British cruise ship passenger was killed and nine others injured after their tour bus crashed on the island of Dominica.

The visitors were on a shore excursion when the bus collided with another vehicle.

The passengers had been on board the P&O Cruises ship Azura, which had sailed from Southampton, Hampshire, England on Oct. 28.

All the injured passengers were also British.

Police investigators say the tourists were returning to the ship after an exercusion to the Emerald Pool beauty spot when the collision occurred.

The bus was transporting 12 passengers including l0 guests from the Azura.

The tourists had already stopped off the Azores in the mid-Atlantic and the islands of St. Maarten and St. Lucia.

After Dominica, the ship is believed to have sailed to Grenada and Barbados.

Guyana

Security officers recently conducted “Operation Safe Guard” at the Georgetown and New Amsterdam prisons and seized a large quantity of contraband items.

Police said that during the surprise search of the Georgetown Prison they found 21 improvised weapons and knives, 20 razor blades, 500 grams of marijuana, 22 cellular phones and five gallons of homemade wine, along with several other banned items.

Authorities say a lesser number of the contraband items were found at the New Amsterdam Prison.

Security officials expressed concern that the Georgetown Prison was last searched on Sept. 23 and this means the items were smuggled into the jail over the past two months.

Following this haul, the government said it would work closely with the Guyana Prison Service and the Joint Services to address ongoing security breaches at the correctional facilities.

Jamaica

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently approved a US$1.6 billion stand-by arrangement for Jamaica to support its continued economic reform agenda.

Jamaican officials have indicated they will treat the arrangement as precautionary, and do not intend to draw the new stand-by arrangement unless exogenous shocks generate an actual balance of payments need.

The IMF board approval will make about US$411.9 million available and the remainder in six tranches upon completion of semi-annual program reviews.

Tao Zhang, deputy managing director and acting chair of the IMF said Jamaica has established a commendable track record of program ownership and implementation under the extended fund facility (EFF), macroeconomic stability has been entrenched, evidenced by low inflation, the build-up of foreign currency reserves and a decline in the current deficit.

He noted that fiscal discipline and proactive debt management have helped place public debt on a downward trajectory.

Still, he said, growth is low, poverty and unemployment is high and crime and security challenges impose a serious drag on growth.

St. Lucia

The St. Lucia Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) recently held a Zika Sensitization Workshop at the National Mental Wellness Center to train participants in risk communication and reduce the impact of the Zika virus on the population.

In a press release Dr. Sharon Belmar-George said the participants of the workshop included representatives of town and village councils, social workers and staff of the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

Dr. George said PAHO has been very supportive in the fight against Zika and the other vector borne diseases which have affected St. Lucia.

Valerie Beech-Horne, the PAHO representative in St. Lucia said it was important to adopt a multi sectoral approach in combating the virus.

PAHO is very concerned about the impact of the disease on its member states, especially in the Eastern Caribbean.

St. Vincent

Police in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have detained an 18-year-old suspect in connection with two of the murder of four persons, among them a mother and son.

The 80-year-old mother and her 40-year-old son were killed in their New Montrose House, a stone throw from the official residence of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who was out of the country and the Old Montrose Police Station.

Assistant Superintendent of Police Clauston Francis told the media that the police have detained one suspect in relation to at least two of the murders.

He said the body of Ronald Israel was found in the porch of the house where he lives with his mother, Avis Israel, with his head smashed in.

Israel (Avis) was found dead in a bedroom with similar injuries.

Police were also investigation the killing of Pamela Williams, 50, which occurred at her home in Kingstown Park, a community just outside the capital.

Another man identified as Nicholas Layne, 30, died of head injuries in the Coco area of Campden Park, a community West of Kingstown.

Trinidad

The rate of unemployment in Trinidad and Tobago has increased to 4.4 percent in the second quarter of this year from 3.8 percent in the first quarter of 2016, according to data released by the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT).

The bank said conditions in the labor market continue to worsen due to economic challenges, the bank said in its latest Monetary Policy Report.

The change in the unemployment rate between June 2015 and June 2016 reflected an “increase of 16,200 in the number of people who are unable to find work and departure of 8,200 from the labor force”.

But the report noted that job openings for low-skilled workers remained considerable.

The CBTT noted that more males suffered job losses during the second quarter of 2016 than females with an unemployment rate at 4.1 percent.

With respect to job losses, the Bank noted that the sectors most affected were distribution (13,000 people), construction (10,000) and agriculture (1,900).

— compiled by Azad Ali

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